It was a brief hiatus against two wildcard foes, but the Cubs hometown magic was back in force. The Cubs completed the season sweep of the Mariners with a complete victory. Jon Lester wobbled but remained stout over six scoreless frames. For one night, the Cubs injury list reinforcements provided a needed spark. It was a much needed lift with both Javier Baez and Kris Bryant nursing injuries heading into the offday. Thankfully the deep bench and bullpen allowed the Cubs to navigate their way to win number 75.
Jon Lester retired speedy Mallex Smith to start the game. Dylan Moore singled and then stole second. Austin Nola and Kyle Seager each drew walks to load the bases with just one out. Tom Murphy hit a pop fly into center that wasn’t deep enough to score Moore. Dundee Crown’s own Ryan Court picked up where he left off the last game with an inning ending strikeout.
King Felix is not who he once was, and the numbers this seasons reflect that. Ben Zobrist struck out swinging to open the game. Kyle Schwarber walked, but Hernandez punched out the scorching hot Nicholas Castellanos. Anthony Rizzo grounded out to short to end the inning. Big Jon cruised through the second and third inning facing the minimum. Mallex Smith‘s third inning tootblan kept the pitch count down.
Willson Contreras unloaded on a Hernandez offering to start the second inning. Ian Happ walked and stole second with one out, but the veteran righty worked around the base runner to keep the Cubs at one. Ben Zobrist walked to start the bottom of the third. Schwarber doubled on a liner into center. Castellanos hit a sacrifice fly to advance the runners to double the Cubs lead. Rizzo grounded out without driving in Schwarber. Contreras almost hit another bomb, but it hooked foul. He instead had to settle for a walk. Ian Happ struck out to end the inning.
Lester wobbled again in the fourth inning. Seager singled to start the inning, and Tom Murphy drew another Lester base on balls. Ryan Court and Dee Gordon were each struck out. Braden Bishop hit a ground ball single with two outs to load the bases. Hernandez was pinch hit for by Tim Lopes who struck out swinging to end the inning.
Wade LeBlanc pitched a clean fourth inning. Lester pitched a more economical inning, pitching around a one out Dylan Moore single and steal. Zobrist and Schwarber had back to back singles to start the inning. Castellanos launched his twelfth homer with the Cubs making the game rather comfortable. Rizzo and Contreras reached, but an Ian Happ double play ball killed most of the momentum. Heyward struck out swinging to end the frame.
Ryan Court finally got his Wrigley Field moment slashing a solid one out single in the sixth inning. Dee Gordon singled to advance Court to third. Bishop struck out swinging before Gordon advanced to second on a steal. Keon Broxton drew another walk from Lester. Mallex Smith struck out looking on Lester’s 107th pitch of the night to keep the Mariners frustrated once again.
Steve Cishek and Brandon Brennan traded clean frames to keep the game 5-0 heading into the stretch. Schwarber obliterated a ball to greet Erik Swanson and make it a 6-0 Cubs lead. Castellanos bounced a groundball up the middle next. Anthony Rizzo reached on some more Mariners defense. Contreras bounced the ball down to third where a bobble cost the M’s an out in the fielder’s choice. Happ bounced into another double play this time to end the inning.
Brandon Kintzler worked the eighth inning starting with a Tom Murphy ground out and Court striking out for the third time. Gordon and Bishop hit back to back soft singles to end Kintzler’s night. Kyle Ryan was inserted to face former farm favorite Dan Vogelbach. Ryan threw a decent pitch that Vogelbach dumped into shallow left. Dee Gordon raced around third to score but Schwarber fired a backpick throw to get a Bishop who rounded too far around second for the final out. The run should have been waved off but by a technicality of when and what was challenged allowed the Mariners to get a run.
Zac Grotz set the Cubs down in order to send the game to the ninth at the 6-1 final score. Ryan retired Mallex Smith before Rowan Wick nailed down the final two outs. Wick threw six pitches and struck out one batter in his appearance. The righty was dominant once again as the Cubs kept pace with the Cardinals for another night.
A lot of things went right for the Cubs in another win over a bad foe. Willson Contreras return has to be among the most positive. The Cubs All-Star catcher unloaded on a Hernandez early, and it is hard not to daydream a little about the Cubs having Javy and Bryant healthy with Willson back.